Whatever changes might be made in the operations of the Dane County 911 Center following the Brittany Zimmermann homicide, a public relations and information campaign on its behalf is already underway. The Public Safety Communications Center has launched a new website at press release by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and launched the same day.
Concern over the operations of the center erupted in early May when Isthmus reported that there was no response to a 911 call placed from the cell phone of Brittany Zimmermann around the time she was killed on April 2. Dane County PSC Center Director Joe Norwick and MPD Chief Noble Wray held hastily-assembled press conferences the day the story was revealed, and county supervisors quickly started calling for an investigation of the error; an initial look conducted by the center itself revealed that police investigations were misdirected in part for two weeks. Several supervisors held an unofficial public meeting about the center last week, albeit one not attended by major elected or public safety officials.
This new center website, though, is a sign that the county is working to address any issues with its operations, or at least public perceptions about them.
Dane911.com features general information about the center, primarily through an FAQ that addresses appropriate use of 9-1-1, Enhanced 9-1-1 operations, and the current status of emergency response technology when it comes to calls placed from cell phones and VoIP services. This is sourced from the National Emergency Number Association. Also featured is a list of honors available to operators involved in successful outcomes to emergencies, and a protocol for submitting a complaint about the center. Finally, there is information about recruitment for center personnel and links to the agendas and meeting minutes of the Dane County Public Safety Communications Center Board.
Though it is noted in the release that "work on the website started months ago as part of a public education initiative 911 Center Director Joe Norwick embarked upon when hired for the job in July of 2007," this website is brand new. Its domain was purchased by Dane County Information Management on Friday, May 23, the very day it was announced. The site replaces a former version that simply provided the department's address, mission statement, a link to job listings, and listed the agencies it dispatched.
The county promises more information will be provided on a regular basis via this site, most notably in the form of weekly reports about calls taken and handled by the center. These are set to include details about the number of incidents where police, fire, and EMS were dispatched in response to calls. The site front page currently includes a few aggregate numbers, including the 2007 figures of: 519,852 total incoming calls; 161,348 calls made from 911, 171,551 law enforcement incidents, and 45,656 fire and emergency medical incidents.
"Dane911.com links the public with important information that may someday help save a life," says Falk in the release. "It also offers an inside look at the hard work done everyday by our 9-1-1 Center professionals."